The United Nations (UN) called on Friday for global funding to aid millions of people facing hellish living conditions in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after years of factional bloodshed and lawlessness.

President Joseph Kabila‘s government chose not to attend a U.N. pledging conference held in Geneva this week. Kinshasa has denied there is a humanitarian crisis, and accused foreign powers of stigmatising the country and scaring away investment.

The United Nations is seeking $2.2 billion to support about 13 million people in Congo this year, including 2.2 million children with severe acute malnutrition that makes them susceptible to death from disease.

Around 4.3 million people have been displaced amid endemic violence – including machete attacks and gang rape – aggravated by a political crisis sparked by Kabila’s refusal to step down at the end of his mandate in 2016.

Mark Lowcock, the top UN humanitarian official, opening the conference without mentioning Congo’s absence, said he hoped to secure $530 million in pledges by the end of the day.